Prayer Challenge Day 2: Low-stakes risk-taking

As you think about your friend today, can you recall any times of them taking risks in their life to do something they thought was worth doing?

David took a risk to protect his sheep from a bear, and survived. It gave him confidence to do the same again, this time from a lion.  His confidence built up to challenge a giant warrior, and finally, to challenge the enemies of his country with fierceness and love for his people.

Before God leads us to the higher-stakes challenges of our lives, he prepares us at a lower level of risk.  Perhaps the risks we see our friends taking, or that we know about in their past, show us something of the greater challenges up ahead.  Did they ever risk all to form a relationship?  Did they ever stand up to some injustice as a kid?  Did they ever organize something small that could be beginnings of a broader calling to carry out larger visions?  Notice any patterns that might be emerging, and encourage your friend, blessing them for the risks they have taken that could grow and larger things in their life.

 

Prayer Challenge Day 1: Seeing the Oak in the Acorn

Every tree begins from a small seed that bears little outward resemblance to the tree it will someday become. It’s usually difficult to tell much about a baby’s future from its personality at birth, as well.  But not long afterwards, both saplings and toddlers demonstrate some of their uniqueness.

Not long after I transplanted an oak tree into my yard, the nearby bonfire withered the leaves, and taking it for dead, I chopped it down.  I was surprised to see that, months afterwards, leaves were springing up from the tiny stump.  The oak tree is a very strong wood, and hardy.  I recognized the strength in the sapling that will one day make a strong and resilient tree in my back yard – and it is once again on its way to being a mighty oak. But the amazing qualities of a mature oak tree can be seen when it is still small.

Though even Jesse, David’s dad, was surprised to see David chosen to be future king, Samuel had the insight to see that God had found “a man after his own heart,” who was a young shepherd – but would one day become a shepherd king.

Now hold your friend up in prayer, and picture them. Pray for insight into them. If it’s true that God formed us even before birth, there must often be indications from our earliest years that he has established some unique things for each of us, to do and to be.  Do you know stories of the younger years of your friend’s life?  Are there any that seem to you to have prophetic significance of God’s calling on their life?  Think about what you know of their early years, and ask God for insight into them, blessing them, and giving thanks. Write down what you get, for later sharing in person, or a quick text to encourage their day.

 

Who Do You Say I Am? Prayer Challenge Intro

For two weeks, those of us who want to take The Vineyard’s prayer challenge will find a friend to pray for everyday till February 26th. Have courage to ask people if you can pray for them! Be bold, and if no one asks you, don’t take it as a sign that no one cares about you! Our main way of doing this kind of thing is in Triads in the Outer Circle, so if you like doing this kind of thing, that is the way that anyone can find friends do this with. If these two weeks don’t work for you, consider joining the Outer Circle at our next Feast on March 18th.

Once you have found someone to do this with, find a time and a place once a day where you can be by yourself in an undistracted way. Hold your friend before God in a posture of intercession. Ask God to remind you of the stories of their life, interests and passions, and experiences of success and failure you know they have had. Ask God to give you insight into their life, always knowing that you will not see perfectly, and therefore have to present your insights with some humility and uncertainty. They are the experts before God on how much of what you tell them actually fits.

Some of these meditations require a fair bit of knowledge of your friend’s life.  If you don’t know something, perhaps God will show you things directly you don’t know naturally.  Be open to the working of God’s spirit in this way.  As well, some of these deep questions here might prompt you to actually just ask each other about them.

The people doing this will need to find their own way of sharing insights with each other. For some it might be a short encouraging text message, others will want to meet together for a coffee and sharing what they have written as they prayed for each other. If you aren’t sharing immediately after you pray for them, write down your insights. Also, keep track of what is being spoken to you. Please be warm and open with each other. This whole exercise is to serve and encourage each other not put each other in little constricting boxes.

On the Sunday of February 26th, there will be opportunity for people to share how God has spoken to them through this prayer challenge.

Have fun, and let God spirit encourage your friend through you!

Why are we doing this?:

  • To gain more clarity on our personal callings so that we can live them out more fully.
  • To apply what we’ve learned through our series on David.

Where can I get the daily meditations?:

  • The meditation for each day will be posted here on the website (and shared via email and Facebook).
  • Physical copies of all the meditations will also be available at the info table.

When is it?:

  • February 12 – 26th.
  • On Sunday, February 26 we’ll hear personal stories to encourage each other.

 Other Notes:

 

Who Do You Say I Am? – a Challenge

Jesus once asked his disciples this pointed question: “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29)  It was, of course, Peter who blurted out the answer: “You are the Christ!”  This question can be equally powerful when we ask God for his answer for ourselves and others.  He may not blurt out the answer like Peter did, but he will gently and surely lead us to the best answers for ourselves and our community.

We hope you’ve been stirred in this direction through our “Why On Earth: David, calling and the pursuit of God” series.  But we want you to be more than stirred!  Toward answering this question of calling and identity, we want to end with a practical challenge.  From February 12 – 26 we will shine a light on the question of calling with the purpose of gaining more clarity regarding our vocations.  It will be a two week prayer challenge during which time we’ll have daily meditations designed to help orient your prayers along the lines we’ve been exploring.  We encourage you to team up with one or two other people (others in your Triad, House Group, a mentor, or a friend) and commit to praying for each other along the lines of the daily meditations.  The end goal is for everyone involved to have more clarity in their calling so we can more fully live them out.

To help facilitate this we are going to devote most of our normal teaching times on February 12 and 19 to praying for each other.  There will be just one service on both these Sundays that will be curated in a way to help us hear from God for each other.

Why:

  • To gain more clarity on our personal callings so that we can live them out more fully.
  • To apply what we’ve learned through our series on David.

What:

  • Two-week Prayer Challenge – praying for clarity in your calling with one or two others.
  • Asking God the question “who do you say I am?” and listening for his answer in a variety of ways.

When:

  • We’ll kick it off on Sunday, February 12.  On Sunday, February 26 we’ll hear personal stories to encourage each other.

How Should You Prepare?:

  • Find one or two people and commit to praying for each other during the Prayer Challenge along the lines of the daily meditations.

 

Membership, OC & AGM

We want to be a community in which nobody gets left out or left behind.  This means relationship – lots of relationship!  There are many organized venues for encouraging community (think Outer Circle, House Groups, Service opportunities, etc) and there are many organic opportunities (think lunch invitations, parties, farm days, etc).  Both are valuable, however what follows concerns the organized variety…

Every year we keep an active membership roster.  This is partly because we are required to by the government but it’s also a helpful way of keeping track of everyone who wants to be part of the Vineyard in this way.  Currently our formal membership is defined in two ways:

  1. Everyone who is in a Triad in the Outer Circle process.  This doesn’t mean you need to come to the gatherings – but it does mean you participate in the process as outlined here.
  2. Anyone else who is doing something similar to what is supposed to happen in Triads (House Groups are the best example of this).  People who are doing something similar to the Outer Circle will: 1) intentionally and regularly get together with a small group of people, 2) know and be known by those people, and 3) actively engage in spiritual growth as described in our Core Practices.

You can read more about membership in the Vineyard here.

If you haven’t already done so for 2017, please submit your name to the office if want to be a formal member for 2017 as defined above.  Count yourself in!

Our next Annual General Meeting will take place during our next Outer Circle gathering on March 18.  Everyone is welcome to come, but only formal members are able to vote on items that require ratification by the membership.  This year we’ll be presenting our budget for 2017 and our financial report for 2016, ratifying new Board of Director appointments and some constitutional amendments.  We’ll communicate more about each of these items prior to the AGM.

A Surplus of Gratitude

We’ve said it verbally for the past few Sundays but we’ll write it here too, just in case you missed it – 2017 turned out to be another year of amazing provision which we’re humbled by and thankful for.  We even ended the year with a small surplus.  Thank you to those who joined with us in prayer and fasting, and thank you for your generosity in supporting WCV financially.  God always seems to provide for us in unexpected ways through unexpected gifts as well as through regular giving from people like you.  It has been noted before, but WCV is a generous church, both in what we accomplish and the people who are the church – we know that, which is why we never posture our communication to be about “digging deeper”.  Rather, we acknowledge that God is the source of every good gift.  He partners with his people in accomplishing his will.  What each of us does with the money we have is a good indication of our discipleship.  These are all reasons to say “thank you!” to you, and to God, our generous Father.

You can expect a full financial report for 2016 and a presentation of the budget for 2017 leading up to our Annual General Meeting on March 18.  This meeting will be during our regular Outer Circle gathering, but anyone can come.  All members (those involved in the Outer Circle, a House Group or a similar group – more info here) are especially encouraged to come to this meeting.  You can also look for your 2016 tax receipts during the next few Sundays.

An Invitation to Travel… to the Himalayas!

Here’s a very special invitation for everyone at WCV.  September 27 – 30 the Himalayan Region Vineyard is hosting a big conference during which they will be commissioned to be their own Association of Vineyard Churches.  This is an exciting and normal part of the growth process for groups of Vineyard churches.  This release as their own association won’t change their relationship with us – we will still be family – but it is significant and cause for celebration.  Vineyardites from around the world will gather in Siliguri, India (see map below) in what we expect will be the largest gathering of Himalayan Region Vineyard people ever.   It will be a big deal.  Of course, it would be wonderful to have as many WCVers there as possible – and we want to help make that happen.

There will be limited travel subsidies available to help get WCVers there.  If you’ve always wanted to go to the Himalayas, perhaps this is an opportunity that would work of you!  If you are interested in going and if you would need a subsidy please contact the office.  Amounts of subsidies will be determined later but please note they will only cover a portion of the travel.

Depending on interest from the group, we may add on a trip to Kathmandu after the conference in Siliguri.

  • Himalayan Vineyard’s AVC (Association of Vineyard Churches) Release Gathering
  • September 27 – 30, 2017
  • Siliguri, India

Contact the Office.

 

A New Year Celebration – stomping on snake heads and other reasons to party

I came across this painting by Sister Grace Remington a few years ago while doing research for a sermon.  I can’t recall what the sermon was on but this painting has stayed with me, lingering in my inbox.  It moved me then and it still moves me now.  I find myself in it – perhaps you will too.

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Painting by Sister Grace Remington, OCSO Sisters of the Mississippi Abbey in Dubuque, Iowa

This painting speaks with a simple eloquence of the hope that Christmas points to.   But more than that it speaks to me of my condition as a descendant of Eve – as one who has been infected by the serpent’s venom – as one who has been tripped up too many times by the cunning temptations hung before me like plump juicy fruit (pears by the look of it in this rendition – I love pears…).  It reminds me that the rebellion of my ancient biblical ancestors lives in me too.

This painting also speaks to me of another reality I’m learning to live into.  It calls me to recall my position and identity within God’s family.  The snake has bitten my foot (“bruised” as the Hebrew puts it).  It hurts and the venom is deadly.  However, the head of that very same snake has been struck (again, bruised) by the baby in that womb.  The prophecy spoken to the serpent in Genesis 3 has been fulfilled in the coming of Jesus (he will bruise your head, you will bruise his heel).  In other words, the snake will go down fighting, but he will go down (technically he already has, but that’s for another post).  This picture is pregnant with this promise.  It beckons me to live up to this hope and to allow my life to be infused and transformed by it.

This is worth celebrating.  Not the shallow kind of celebration that denies the difficult parts of my reality, but the authentic and genuine praise that erupts from the throats of worshippers who have tasted of freedom and are longing for more!  The kind of deep celebration that happens when the one stuck in pain and loneliness feels hope communicated to them through the loving embrace of community.  It’s the joyful tears of forgiveness, and the melodies that well up from within when the sweet tastes of hope and freedom replace the bitter flavours of sin.  We have reason for hope and we have reason to celebrate!

Jesus has come.  Jesus is with us.  Jesus has the last word (and the word after that too).  

 

Let’s party.

This Sunday, January 1, 2017.  10am.

P.S.  We will start on time (as usual) – don’t miss out by being late.

 

Do you want to Grow this Year?

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-1-39-45-pmAdmittedly, this is a bit of a redundant question.  Of course the right answer to the question is, “yes, I want to grow this year!”  Yet conditions for growth require more than a willingness on our part – even if that willingness is full of passion.  Perhaps this is why growth is often difficult to see, even though most of us readily admit we want it.

God is creative.  Ever since he spoke the world into being and ever since he bent down and formed the first humans out of the dirt and breathed into them, he has been creating.  Astronomers understand that the universe is continuously expanding outward – as if the life-giving power of God’s words “Let there be…” haven’t stopped forming.  Creation is ongoing, generating new expanses of space, but also newness in us, should we choose to allow it.  For followers of Jesus, this creative energy is moulding us into being more like him – restoring our image of God-ness.  This is a deep and beautiful task and it is the setting, the backdrop, and the reason we engage in the Outer Circle process each year.

Imagine, getting together regularly with 2 or 3 other people and sharing three areas of growth God has invited you into for the year.  Imagine being honest about your strengths and allowing God to fill you with screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-1-44-20-pmhis laughter and delight.  Picture yourself being prayed for as you posture yourself in deliberate and intentional ways to be formed into Jesus’ likeness.  What growth might be visible in a year from now if you stuck with it?  What might you see formed in those 2 or 3 friends?  What if you tracked your friend’s journeys in specific ways?  What might the Holy Spirit do in you and in them if given the chance?

Do you really want to grow this year?  You might want to consider forming a Triad and being part of the Outer Circle process for 2017.  Our first gathering is on Saturday, January 14, 5:30pm – 8pm.

By then you should have identified your 3 areas of strength (Grace received) and 3 areas of growth for the coming year (Grace needed) and have made a plan.  If this doesn’t make sense to you, read more here.

Contact the office to sign up.  The Outer Circle is one way to be a member in the Vineyard.  For more on membership go here.

For more detailed explanation of the Outer Circle process go here.

 

Coming Home – Christmas Greetings

We’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone in the WCV community a merry Christmas. It’s amazing that we’re here again – another revolution around the sun and on the eve of another new year.

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-11-27-12-amThroughout this Advent season we’ve been exploring the gospel of John and the idea of homecoming.   We hope you’ve enjoyed using the “Heart has a Home” booklets.  Please let us know if they’re helpful.

We’ve been praying for a deeper understanding of the events we celebrate at Christmas, primarily the incarnation – God becoming fully human in the form of one of us.  It’s quite astonishing that God would make his home among us as one of us.  It’s even more astonishing that he would take up residence in a young woman’s uterus for 9 months and would subject himself to the beautiful mess of the birthing process, in an animal stable no less!  That he would live as a son of a carpenter in a backwater region of the Roman empire and that he would learn to talk, walk, laugh, cry – all the experiences that make us human, are all signs of the depth to which he came to live with us as one of us.  This is God making his home among us and it’s simply astounding.

However, our reflections haven’t centred only on events that happened 2,000 years ago, as amazing as they were.  We’ve also looked for his coming in our daily lives in the present.  In all our comings and goings we’ve been listening for his whispers, trying to perceive his fingerprints, and opening ourselves to his presence with us.  The hope of Christmas is, in part, that the incarnation continues today and that he makes his home amongst those who welcome him.

And finally, we’ve been looking with anticipation to the final homecoming when Jesus, who is the Lord of all creation, comes to take his rightful place once again.  John paints a grand picture of heaven and earth coming together again at last as he records the angel’s ecstatic shout, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them…” (Rev 21:3).  This is our ultimate hope – that our home will be with God.  Jesus made a way, we experience it now in part, and we long for it’s fulfilment in the age to come.  This is not a disembodied hope in a vague afterlife.  It’s is real life grounded in a renewed earth screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-11-25-35-amwith fully alive renewed bodies and pure hearts.  Jesus models the way for us.  Paul calls him the “first of a great harvest” (1 Cor 15:20-23).  What happened to Jesus, will happen to those who are at home with him.  This is our great hope, which is stirred as we look to Jesus’ birth, made real as we experience the Father’s loving presence through the Spirit today, and is fanned into flame like a warm crackling fire in the hearth as we look to the final day of Jesus’ final return home.

Wherever you are, and whatever your situation is this Christmas, we pray these realities will give you strength and a tangible hope for today.  Merry Christmas!

 

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Christmas Scheduling:

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-11-30-44-amChristmas Eve service:

  • Dec 24, 6pm – 7pm.
  • We will worship together and will end with a candlelight celebration.

Christmas Day Sunday Gathering:

  • Dec 25, 10am – 11:15am

Celebration Sunday:

  • Jan 1, 10am – 11:45am
  • We’re going to enter 2017 worshipping together!  We’ve also got a few interesting prayer exercises we’ll do together.  Come prepared and expectant.

Office Hours:

  • Normal office hours are Mon – Thur 9am – 4pm.
  • For the week between Christmas and New Years the office will be open Wed, Dec 28, 9am – 3pm.

Year-end Giving:

If you are planning on making a year-end financial contribution to WCV we need to receive all funds by Dec 31, 2016.  Post-dated cheques, or other contributions, received in 2017 will only be applied to 2016 if:

  • The cheque is dated for 2016 and is mailed and Canada Post has processed and stamped the envelop in 2016, or
  • You have contacted Lillian by Dec 31, 2016, and stated your intention to contribute towards 2016.  You can call her at (204) 582-2900 x15 (leave a message), or email.

In both cases cheques must be dated for 2016.  If we receive a gift in 2017 (even if the cheque is post-dated) and neither the above conditions are met, we will not be able to apply the gift towards 2016.

Thank you!

A Message from Vineyard Canada – David Ruis

Here’s a shout-out from David Ruis, Vineyard Canada’s National Director (along with Anita).  Here David looks forward to 2017 and gives a few key points points about what to look forward to in 2017.

David Ruis gives end of ’16 address to the #VTribe; looking forward to ’17 from David Ruis on Vimeo.

Outer Circle 2017 – Posturing for Growth

Our goal is growth.  We want to grow into a rich fertile field that produces a lot of Kingdom fruit.  Ok, ok – so that’s a little vague and is a little heavy with “Christian-ese”!  Let me spell it out like this:

Jesus, in his 3 years on earth, was involved in a number of groups, each with unique strengths and purposes.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-4-24-00-pmHe had a group of 12 close disciples who lived with him, observed what he did, and ultimately participated in the establishment of the church.  From among those 12 he had 3 who were especially close and were privy to a number of personal and intimate moments with Jesus.  He could share things with them, he couldn’t with the group.  It’s also clear that he had many more than just 12 people who followed him.  There were a number of women (which was quite counter cultural for the time), and others who were impacted and attracted by who he was and what he did.  Finally (for our purposes here at least), Jesus had a mission field – a target group he was aiming to impact.

We can think of WCV in a similar way.  We have some structures set up to help encourage everyone to be involved in at least one of these levels.

The Triads in the Outer Circle process are designed to be an incubator for growth for 2 to 4 people – kind of like Peter, James and John with Jesus.  They provide a venue to be involved in specific and real areas of other member’s lives.  Triads are reminded to keep track of each other, pray for each other, and support each other in the particular areas God is celebrating in each person for the year, as well as the ways he’s inviting growth for the coming year for each member of the Triad.

HouseGroupsCouch copyHouse Groups are also quite intimate, but meet different needs than the Triads in the Outer Circle process.  They are more like Jesus’ 12 disciples – great opportunities to develop community, to share needs and joys, to learn and worship together, and to provide safe places to practice many of the skills and gifts we want to see developed in our church (praying for each other, worshipping authentically, practically supporting each other, and leadership development, to name just a few).

Both the Triads in the Outer Circle Process and House Groups provide opportunities for people in WCV go beyond just meeting together on a Sunday morning (which are essential but can only accomplish so much).  They are invitations to friendship where we can regularly and honestly connect with each other.  For both the goal is to provide a place for spiritual growth in the context of community.  Of course there are other ways this can happen outside of WCV’s structure – and we encourage that too!

Jesus also had crowds of followers (until he ended up on the cross, but that’s another story and is also where this metaphor breaks down a bit… ).  These crowds provided many opportunities for the Kingdom to advance and for Jesus to pursue his mission.  Our Sunday gatherings and our weekly Drop-ins are great spots for this kind of activity.  They have advantages of feeling part of something bigger, preaching the gospel and instruction, public celebration, worship, etc.

And finally, we have our mission field.  Our goal is to create a opportunities for growth at every sphere of interaction.  We want to cultivate a rich environment for each person who calls WCV home to grow in their relationship with God and with each other – and we want to grow to see more people come to know Jesus in real and life-changing ways.

Because of their emphasis on personal growth and discipleship, we’ve identified the first two areas, Triads in the Outer Circle, and House Groups as a requirement for membership in WCV (Outer Circle or a Similar Group – like a House Group).

For those who are looking to be part of a Triad in the Outer Circle process for 2017, now is the time to be preparing for it.  Go here, or grab a booklet from the info table for more.

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Invitation to Pray – Invitation to Grow

2016 Budget:  $441,580
Offerings to date:  $369, 842
What we still need for December:  $71, 738

These, simply, are the numbers regarding our current 2016 financial reality.  While they are, in one way, our current situation, there is another reality at work behind these numbers.  That is the simple truth that God provides and always has provided for us.  This should induce hope and faith, and dispel panic and worry.  It should not, however, cause us to become complacent.  The staff and Board of Directors diligently and prayerfully set budgets and keep track of expenses and income throughout the year, and each year around this time we are reminded of our dependence on God.  This annual reminder of our reliance on him in this way has changed us for the better – it’s formed us.  Yes, we all need to be diligent and faithful in our giving (thank you for that), but ultimately, it comes from him.

With that in mind we’d like to invite you to join us in holding our collective financial situation up to the Lord, knowing that as we do so, he hears us, provides for us and changes us.  The Staff, Pastoral and Lay Elders and the Board of Directors have been fasting and praying on Tuesdays.  You are invited to join us!

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-9-59-00-amThis call to prayer and fasting is not a manipulative attempt to get WCVers to “dig deeper”.  Far from it!  It is a call to lay our cares before the “Lord of the harvest” – to offer our concerns and cares up to him – and as we do so, we are changed.  We become more reliant on him.  We become more trusting in his provision.  Gratitude is stirred in us for the ways he does provide for us collectively.  The exciting opportunity is that we are changed in the process!  

Will you join us?